RECIPES WITH FOODS CURRENTLY IN SEASON:
Pomegranates: Pomegranate Pavlova
Carob: Coconut-Carob Cake
Dates: Dried Fig and Date Granola Bars
Zucchini: Zucchini Spice Muffins
POMEGRANATES: Pomegranate season is a funny one. It starts in about September, and goes on for awhile depending on where your trees are located. In the village of Amargetti, October is the season when our pomegranate tree is bearing the most pomegranates. You can tell that they are ready for harvesting because they make a metallic sound when they are tapped. The fruit is very good for you, which I think is a fact that most people know. Have you ever noticed that some pomegranates crack open while they are still on the tree? I have. And have wondered why. There seem to be two reasons. The first is that they are over ripe. The second is as a result of irregular watering. If there is a dry spell and then a sudden influx of water, this causes the cells inside the fruit to expand. It also causes the cells in the skin of the fruit to expand, but because the skin cells don’t expand as fast as the cells inside of the fruit, the skin cracks open. So the solution is to consistently water a pomegranate tree. Many people in Cyprus simple eat the pomegranates fresh. This is how I love to enjoy them, and even though they take a long time to clean, I think it’s well worth it. But be careful as the juice stains your clothes, and won’t come out! Something me and my white shirt learned from experience.
CAROBS: My first memory of carobs was that the farm animals that my grandma kept loved to eat them. It was sort of like their dessert. Then I discovered some interesting facts about carobs too. For example, people think that the seeds from a carob were the original guage for the “carat” used by jewelers. This is because the seeds of the carob are extremely consistent in their size and weight. More significantly, the carob features quite heavily in the agricultural and economic history of Cyprus. One just has to wander around the Old Town of Limassol and see the old “Lanitis Carob Mill” and see the carob trees dotting the Cyprus landscape to begin to understand that the carob definitely played a role in Cyprus history. Known as “black gold”, in the past, carob was the main agricultural export of the island, but declined due to declining prices on the world market. Some have said that Cyprus produces the best carobs in the world, due to the high sugar content. Nowadays, because the process of gathering the carobs is so labour intensive, the supply of carobs is decreasing. The village of Anogyra is quite famous for their carob processing and pasteli (a type of Cypriot toffee made with carob syrup) and even has a carob museum. But if you have the chance to come across a carob tree with carobs hanging from it, know that you can cut the carobs and eat what is hanging. The thicker the carob, the more likely you will find some sweet honey inside. Though I have not made anything from the actual carob itself, I find cooking with carob syrup and carob powder really enjoyable. It has a unique flavour, which sort of reminds me a bit of chocolate and a bit of coffee. The most famous Cyprus food products made from carobs include carob syrup, carob powder and pasteli.
DATES: There is a lot of information about different varieties of dates, how to cultivate them. There is enough information out there for me to know that I know very little about dates. What I do know, is that now is the season when they are ready. I know that when they are yellow on a tree, they are not yet ripe. When they turn red, as the ones above, they are ready. You can eat the red ones once you have cut them.
KOHLRABI/KOULOUMBRA: Or “kouloumbra” as it is known in Cyprus, is still fresh and available in Cyprus. The more I learn about this vegetable, the more I like it. It is very healthy for you, and you can eat both the leaves on the stem and the root itself. Note that the leaves on the stem drink the juices from the root, so if you want your root to stay juicy for as long as possible, cut off the stems!
ZUCCHINI: Ah, the ubiquitous zucchini. It’s everywhere. And it seems to be in season … forever. It goes great with fresh louvi, as well as eaten on its own. I feel like there is an endless supply of fresh zucchini in the village. There is always fresh zucchini in the village in the summer months. Always. And even though it is October, it is still hot. So there is still zucchini in the village. If you are like me then, you are craving new ways to enjoy this vegetable. And Aφrodite’s Kitchen has found at least one incredibly easy and delicious recipe – zucchini muffins!